Tuesday, March 26, 2013

10 Things I Learned From Running My First 5K Race

Running a 5K was one of my personal goals and a family goal for 2013

So this past Saturday, my Dad, my husband, and I ran our first 5K race for Special Kids of Tennessee, "a Christian non-profit organization that provides therapeutic rehabilitation and professional nursing services to children with special needs." 

While I wasn't sure at all what to expect from a 5K race--I even asked a friend what I should wear :)--here are 10 things that I learned:

1. Running for a good cause matters. 

Throughout the course there were Special Kids' friends and family members holding posters with pictures of these sweet children and cheering the runners on. Every time I saw one, tears filled my eyes because God has blessed me with three healthy children. It pains me to see an innocent child hurting, and yet what can I do? Running a race to raise money for families who need services for their children feels like one way I can help. That is a HUGE motivator!

2. Recreate race conditions prior to the race. 

Since October when the time changed and we had to start running indoors, we've been working the treadmill. With three small children, taking an early morning run at 30-40 degree temperature, is just not feasible, nor is running when Daddy comes home and there's no sunlight. 

After running this race, my hips and calves ached from running on asphalt, nor was I prepared for the frigid temps that left me gasping for air at the end. Preparation is key to success, and a few practice runs on the weekends on similar terrain and at similar temperatures would definitely help in the future. 

3. Stretching good is very important. 

In all the bustle and excitement of a big race, I was distracted from doing what I needed to do and neglected to warm up appropriately. It wasn't until half a mile in that my legs started loosening up when I should've stretched while standing in the corral waiting to run.

4. Smiling while you run makes a difference.

Before the race I read countless articles on how to prepare for a 5K. One tip that really struck me is to smile. My attitude dramatically improved while running when I smiled--to the runners around me, to the volunteers handing out water, just to my self. Smiling gave me a little extra oomph to keep going. Plus, I have a lot to smile about :)

5. It's okay if your Dad beats you.

My Dad is 57 years old and in excellent shape. I didn't realize how fit he was though until this race when he bobbed back to check on me and then sprinted off. I even heard him joking with other runners who were doing their best not to stop breathing. My Dad came in 5th place in his age division. I know that if he'd wanted to, he could've finished much faster. I'm so proud of him! He truly inspires me to keep running!

6. There's strength in running among others.

Male Runners
Photo credit: Sheffield Tiger
The most important motivator for me to run is my husband. Knowing he's running with me--even though we may be treadmills apart at the gym--pushes me to keep going and not stop. At the race, though, I didn't stay with him because we have different paces. But the other runners surrounding me became the motivation I needed at times to persevere; they brought out my competitive side, which kept me focused on the finish line. 

7. Running is 90% mental, 10% physical.

This adage, which I think hearkens back to Yogi Berra, is true about anything you do. If you set your mind to it, no matter how weak your body, you can achieve it. Just like in natural childbirth, if you determine in your mind that you will not succumb to the physical pain but instead trust in the Lord and His ability to strengthen and sustain you, then you will succeed. 

I truly believe in this because there have been times in training when my legs wanted to stop moving and my chest felt ready to explode, but when I took those negative thoughts captive, I was able to control my body and keep running.

8. Endorphins are a powerful drug!

I think it was lunch time before I finally came down from "the high" of running and finishing a race. Before the race, I didn't think I would ever desire to run again. In fact, a few days before, my husband and I had discussed not running any more because it just wasn't enjoyable. But after the race, all I could think about was the feeling of achieving something I didn't think I would ever do. It's an incredible feeling that--once again--I can only liken to natural childbirth. Very powerful stuff!

9. I will remember my music next time.

Generic Touchscreen MP3 Player
Photo credit: AngelaShupe.com

I intentionally didn't bring my iPhone to the race because I thought it would be too big of a distraction. Next time I'm coming prepared with some upbeat tunes! I could've really used some Imagine Dragons or Foster the People to keep me going.

10. Yes, there will be a next time!

 Hard work pays off, and when you achieve a goal--whether it's running a 5K or whatever--you don't want to stop. Races give you something to work for and are great motivators, especially when running on the treadmill....again...is just no fun. Plus, I'm determined to stay fit and in shape because I feel so good! 

So, my husband and I are looking to up the ante with a 10K. 

What about YOU? Have you run a 5K before? What did you learn from your experience? 

Blessings to you!

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  1. I love your list and I love that you are now going to do a 10K! Running in races is such a good motivation and a double blessing that you get to support good causes. For sure bring your music next time! Good job!

    1. Thanks, Morgan. I will definitely bring my music :)

  2. LOVE this! I agree with all of these. I would also say that finding a race that is supported by the community makes a huge difference. It's so much fun to have people, even complete strangers, cheering you on.
    #2 -Yes, even training on dirt roads is different than training on pavement.
    #9 -Absolutely. Critical really, you must be able to sing your way through when you hit the wall.
    Great post!

    1. I agree, Heather. I have been researching nearby races and only a handful are for what I would consider "worthy causes." I love that people I don't know are cheering me on. So encouraging! Thanks for YOUR encouragement!

  3. Love this! As our family prepares to run our very first 5K in 3 weeks, I find this list most helpful. Funny, in my mind while running I keep making comparisons to labor and childbirth. My last two babies (both weighing over 11 lbs each) were born at home and I realized how very necessary it is to take thoughts captive in order to press on. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I will reference this post in my weekly update this Friday.

    1. Cheryl, I think the principle of believing in yourself and being committed to what you believe in is essential in so many areas of life (childbirth, running, etc.). I really want to pass this on to my kids who, like many in society today, think things should come easily, pain-free, effortless. You really do have to work hard and persevere if you hope to achieve great things.

      Best of luck on your 5K! Thank you for sharing my post, too.


  4. I have never run a 5K and never desire to! :) But good for you! You look so fit!

  5. Congratulations!! I just ran my first 5k last weekend, and I can totally agree with all of your lessons that you've learned. We're running our second in a few weeks.

    Found your blog through Titus 2sdays!

    1. Good for you, Gabrielle! Best of luck on your next race!

      Thanks for commenting. I'm a new Facebook friend :)